The Law and Grace. Day fifty-five...
As a parent, when I challenged my children to better behavior they would often point out some other kids who acted a lot worse than they did. As an employer, when I challenged my employees to better behavior they too would often point out other employees who acted a lot worse than they did.
When our behavior is challenged we often go for a comparison with others who act worse than we do. But when we're the ones doing the challenging—when the mechanic has messed up our car, for instance, we won't settle for, “I did the best I could; you ought to see what kind of a mess your car would have been in if Joe's Garage on the other side of town had worked on it.”
It is, of course, foolish for us to set our own standard of conduct by comparing ourselves to other people.
For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (2 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV)
Jesus sets our standard.
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48 KJV)
But, as recorded in Matthew 5:17–48, Jesus makes demands of us that are humanly impossible to carry out, including the demand to be perfect.
“So what's He trying to do? Just make us miserable wretches?”
He's certainly not trying to make us miserable. He's trying to set us free.
Jesus, in His sermon on the mountain recorded in Matthew chapters 5–7, is trying to get us into the kingdom of God (kingdom of Heaven) way of living—a place of freedom. And this is one of the rare instances in Scripture where it is appropriate to compare yourself against other people.
Let me ask you this question: “In comparing yourself to every other Christian you know or have ever known do you think you would, at a minimum, qualify as the least among them?”
Well of course you would. Any of us could certainly qualify as the least in the kingdom of God.
But this is where it gets very strange.
Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11 NKJV)
For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. (Luke 7:28 NKJV)
Jesus called John the Baptist as the greatest man who had ever lived under the old covenant—greater than Abraham, greater than Moses, greater than David. And then Jesus turns around and calls any one of us who will enter into the kingdom way of living—no matter how weak or unqualified—as greater than John the Baptist.
How is this possible?
Think of the kingdom, not as a piece of real estate, but as an eternal reality that consists of all things God.
Jesus ushered in the kingdom of God, which brought new‐covenant believers into a relationship with God that was previously impossible.
Jesus made it possible for me, by just showing up for duty in the kingdom of God, to stand on the shoulders of those mighty men and women of the old covenant. Not on my own strength though, but only in communion with Him.
Have a great day,